Hormones not too happy - Could you have SIBO?
So, you have this event coming up, (probs not currently with corona) but think back to the 2019’ies and let me know if this rings any bells? Your belly bloats soon after food, you plan where your nearest toilets are, always on the lookout for loose fitting pants, sometimes look 6 months pregnant for no good reason, you eat well, probably tried every diet and you just need to get your gut right before this event. Sound familiar. Mystery Solved….read on!
BACTERIA CRASH THE PARTY!
We have trillions of microbes in our gut that make up our own unique Microbiome, some of which are protective and some are like freeloaders, they crash the party, eat all your food, steal all your friends (nutrients), and never LEAVE! This is especially the norm for our large intestine to have bacteria, but when the bacteria get a little overcrowded in the large intestine, these bacteria start migrating up to the small intestine. Oh, hey, not much bacteria should be hanging up there, this is for absorption of nutrients and energy supply, thanks! So, once we have these new residences hanging where they shouldn’t be, things can get a little hectic.
I’m talking symptoms that can be related to the gut or completely unrelated to the gut, such as headaches, irregular periods, infertility, hormonal acne, the worst bloating before periods, days between pooping or frequent visits in a day. Migraines, weight gain, skin rashes, brain fog, painful joints, legs that have a mind of their own during the night as in restless legs, or achy legs.
WHAT THE FUNK IS SIBO?
SIBO – stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and is around 70% the underlying reason for IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You may have been diagnosed with IBS after taking some tests – colonoscopy, gastroscopy with no specific findings and on your way, may have had to learn to live with it.
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE?
Higher amounts of these bacteria damage the MICROVILLI, finger like characters that are totally in charge of digesting and absorbing the food we eat. They also help with motility, which is that motion that helps us poop, anyone not been on the toilet lately, this one is for you! Microvilli also digest small starch molecules from food especially carbohydrates EVEN vegies, however once microvilli are damaged, bacteria start munching on your food and cause fermentation, here’s where that GAS starts happening.
WHICH GAS ARE YOU? - OR IF YOUR'E LUCKY YOU CAN HAVE BOTH TYPES?
There are 3 types of gases in the gut. They include hydrogen, methane, and hydrogen sulphide.
Gas 1 – Hydrogen – This is the type more prone to diarrhoea and may have been triggered from a bout of food poisoning or travels around the world. SIBO can turn up years later, thanks SIBO. Other symptoms are like the other gases, but I often see heartburn, reflux, and anxiety.
Gas 2 – Methane – This is my favourite, because it is so peculiar and fascinating to learn about. We are still in its early days of learning about methane as a by-product in the gut, alas, it has already got about 3 name changes. It is not called methane dominant SIBO anymore, it’s now called IMO – Intestinal Methanogen Overgrowth. The reason for the name is twofold – a) it is not a bacteria, it’s a member of the archaea family b) methanogens can be found in both small and large intestine – so it’s not really that specific to small intestine – having said that – it is still so important to find out if you are methane dominant so we know how to fix ze problem. I say this in my professor gut accent!!
The most common symptom you will experience is constipation, the methanogens slower motility and can lead to bloating, and or nausea due to delayed gastric emptying. Pain or discomfort, headaches, burping, anxiety, brain fog, and weight gain is associated with SIBO.
Gas 3 – Hydrogen Sulphide – think eggs! At the present time, there is no accurate test for this gas, however a few symptoms and signs in the breath test results may warrant further investigation. If you are super sensitive to alcohol, notice that you feel bloated or uncomfortable after any of these foods – cauliflower, garlic, dried fruit – apricots, sultanas, eggs, then worth checking in with your naturopath and trying a low sulphur food plan and treatment protocol. Skin rashes, hives, acne rosacea, itchy skin and dizziness are also associated.
Test, don’t guess, it will save you endless time and money in the long run.
Testing has become so easy, these days, a simple click on your phone and hey presto, test kit has arrived at your doorstep. No need to make an appointment at your hospital for testing, no wait list anymore. You can order the test kit for SIBO online, through me, and get it delivered to your home. Allow 3 hours of your time, and a day of eating soup and bland food – gah!, and off you go. The test kit contains lactulose sample solution, and some test tubes that you breathe into every 20min. Your levels of methane and hydrogen gas (remember bacteria produce these gases) are measured in the lab, and results are usually back within 5 days. Super easy and convenient. Results are sent to your practitioner in a beautiful graph and number table, if you don’t like graphs!!
OK – SO I HAVE SIBO, NOW WHAT?
Once you find out you have SIBO, trust me this can be the most rewarding answer. No more second guessing what is going on with your hormones and gut. Treatment can take time, from 8-12 weeks, depending on your own situation. Follow the biphasic diet, for a set amount of time with your practitioner, some herbal anti-microbials such as coptis (my fav yellow herb at the moment!!), prokinetics (allow gut motility), allicin and some other weapons, are the major SIBO players! Some of my patients feel better after 3 days, and into 3 weeks, report that they can do their pants up without the bloating feeling and noises are less.
Finally, SIBO is the cause of many gut complaints, and other symptoms that are completely unrelated to the gut. SIBO can play havoc on your hormones disguised as hormonal acne, infertility, PCOS, joint pain and headaches, BRAIN FOG.
Take the guess work out of what type of SIBO you have and get tested from a qualified SIBO naturopath. No need to feel ashamed about your gut or bloating, I have been there and understand the gut has a mind of it’s own.
Alysia Rafery is passionate in SIBO and hormones and finds that success comes from treating the gut first with a dash of self care along the journey. She has over 12 years experience as a Naturopath, a few more as a Myotherapist, a mother of 3 and a massive SIBO podcast fan!!
To make an appointment book on www.bodysyncnatual.com.au or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org